AFRICA/MOROCCO - The prisoner’s old creased Bible: when God enters the prison

Thursday, 21 February 2019


Fès (Agenzia Fides) - Prison may not be hell or a place of despair, but a space where God meets man, wounded and suffering. And it can even become a place to bear witness to one's faith. This is what missionary Fr. Matteo Revelli, priest of the Society for African Missions (SMA) and parish priest of St. François d'Assise in Fès says, reporting to Fides his recent experience. "I went to visit the prisoners in the prison in Fès. Three of them, who will be released in a few days, gave me a rather heavy package, with 3 creased Bibles inside", says the parish priest.
"One of them gave me a big old Bible, weighing at least a kilo and a half, creased, greasy, glued, underlined, with missing pages", adds the missionary. "Then he took me aside and told me that he had had the Bible by his side for 20 years, he had won it as a first prize in a Biblical contest of culture in his Country. He had brought it with him and had always read it during his adventurous journeys through the world in search of fortune".
"For years, he had carried cocaine in his suitcase, from some Latin American country to Europe or Africa", says Fr. Revelli. "He confessed that he never dared to carry that Bible in the same bag where there were drugs. One day he was captured during his last transit in Morocco where he spent 9 years and knows only the airport and the two prisons in which he stayed together with other Moroccan prisoners. When he leaves prison he knows perfectly the Moroccan dialect and the Bible. He confides that this Bible was his only support during his imprisonment and that he no longer needs that written book, because in the meantime he has memorized it. He entrusts it to me so that I can give it to some other prisoner". The missionary added with emotion that "by taking that greased and creased Bible and seeing my Bible neat and clean, I almost felt a feeling of shame". That Bible speaks of the life of a man who has encountered the Word of God during imprisonment: today like him other prisoners can experience the same grace of humble and disinterested spiritual support that priests, religious and laity offer to the prisoners of Fès. (MR/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 21/2/2019)